SOUTHAMPTON'S long-awaited heritage centre could be housed at the city's former magistrates' courts.

City leisure chiefs are due to launch a feasibility study into the project early next year with cash to pay for the project coming from heritage lottery funding.

The new centre could house a world-class Titanic exhibition and would be in place by the 100th anniversary of the liner's sinking in 2012 if the plans are approved.

Part of the heritage attraction would be built inside the present Southampton police station. This will become empty in 2008 when the city's new police headquarters is built.

The idea is supported by both ruling Liberal Democrat and opposition Tory councillors. It has come about following the decision by police to move out of the Civic Centre to a new headquarters which will be constructed in the west of the city.